You might recognize the word “tikka masala” from dishes on Indian restaurant menus. It is one of the more iconic recipes in Indian cuisine, along with their many curried dishes. While you might see it with all kinds of ingredients, it is most typically made with chicken, beef, or lamb. In our Chicken Tikka Masala Slow Cooker Recipe, we use lean chicken breasts because it’s a low-fat, healthy protein. After cooking for hours at a low heat, the chicken is juicy and fall-apart tender.
If this is your first foray into Indian food, fret not! Before you let yourself get overwhelmed, take a second to peek at the ingredients list. Really, the dish is little more than a spiced tomato sauce – how easy is that! We’ll take a look at what that means in a minute, as well as a deeper look into the specific ingredients used. We think this is the perfect weeknight meal to serve over brown rice or quinoa. Or, if you want to make “Indian pizza,” you can serve it with a side of naan bread or whole-wheat pita.
What is Garam Masala?
Garam masala is one of the main spices used in Indian cuisine. Each region has its own combination of specific ingredients, but most of them share a few common components. You can get store-bought garam masala, or you can make it yourself. Most recipes include cumin, coriander, fennel seeds, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, black peppercorns, ground mace, nutmeg, and red chilies.
According to ancient Ayurvedic medicine, these ingredients elevate the body temperature. When the spices heat your body, they promote healing and digestion. So, in addition to their earthy and aromatic flavor, adding garam masala to your cooking can actually help build your immunities to fight disease!
We use prepared garam masala in this recipe, along with antioxidant-rich turmeric, stomach-soothing ginger, and spicy chili powder. These spices really come together to make a tasty sauce that’s also beneficial to your health.
What Else Goes in Tikki Masala?
Like we referred to earlier, tikka masala is really just creamy, spiced tomato sauce. In addition to the flavorful spices, the sauce is composed of tomato paste and coconut milk. To make this slow cooker tikka masala version, we make the sauce in two stages.
First, we start by simmering the chicken in the chicken broth and spices. This not only marinates the chicken so it’s super tender and flavorful, but the long cooking time lets it break down over hours. At the end of the cooking process, the chicken is almost shreddable!
Then, once the chicken is fully cooked, we stir in the coconut milk and tomato paste. The coconut milk adds a subtle sweetness to the dish, as well as contributing to the sauce’s body. The tomato paste adds a full-flavored savory tomato flavor and gives the sauce its characteristic orange hue. Finally, the fresh cilantro adds a brightness to the dish, along with a visually appealing contrasting color.
When it’s finished cooking and the sauce is whisked together, you get to choose how you serve it! My favorite way to eat tikka masala is over a bed of quinoa. It really adds some extra protein, along with a nutty crunchy texture. On the other hand, if I’m craving pizza, I might eat it with naan or pita bread. You can use the bread as a “spoon” to scoop up the chicken and the sauce.
We can’t wait to hear how you enjoyed this quick, easy, and healthy Indian dish. Drop us a line in the comments so we know what you thought of it!
- 1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breast, cut into large cubes
- 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 teaspoons paprika
- 3 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1/4 cup chicken broth or water
- 1 (15 ounce) can coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- Combine all ingredients except coconut milk, tomato paste, and cilantro in the slow cooker. Cook for 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low.
- Once cooked, stir in the coconut milk and tomato paste. Serve over brown rice or quinoa and sprinkle with the fresh cilantro.
Yield: 6 Servings | Serving Size: 1/2 cup | Calories: 271 | Total Fat: 18 g | Saturated Fat: 14 g | Trans Fat: 0 g | Carbohydrates: 10 g | Fiber: 3 g | Sugar: 4 g | Protein: 20 g | Cholesterol: 55 mg | Sodium: 128 mg | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 8
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